Spoiler: Alternate Title On Stars Long Forgotten: Part 1 “Eight o’clock, Earth UTC… Sir, you cannot have another late start. The past few days have been monstrously unproductive; any more wastes and you are at risk of being non-renewed… Sir. This research expedition will be terminated if you do not wake up.” The android was masculine in form, urbane in style. It was dressed to play the role of a personal servant, as some sort of butler perhaps. The suit it wore hinted at an atmosphere of formality, starkly contrasting against the captain’s room. Dirt and grime stuck to all the spots where the wall meets the floor. The tiny cleaner droids did their best, but the captain’s quarters were set as low priority. It didn’t take long before they abandoned the task and moved on. Empty bottles, accrued from a week of unnecessary celebration, were scattered about and poorly hidden. Another one or two tumbled off the bunk as the captain himself wearily lifted himself up on his feet. Sunken eyes looked up at the butler bot, the standard hangover voice following. “It’s my goddamn fleet, Watson, I’ll do whatever I damn well please.” Watson was unfazed by this. The chiseled titanium head tracked the captain’s rise. Despite clearly being built as a man, Watson’s voice was decisively female. No doubt one of the captain’s antics. “I see you are feeling better this morning?” The captain shakily bent down and picked up one of the bottles that rolled off bed, swished it around and decided there’s enough juice left to save. It stays on the bedside table for now. He rubbed his stubble, which was left unshaven for days yet still stayed patchy. As he processed the morning so far, a cocky smirk started across his chops. “What did you call me, just then?” Watson stared blankly at the absolute madman. “Sir. I do not recognize your fake certificate as a legitimate reason to call you by a higher title.” The captain’s smirk widened. “The correct way to address me is Archduke Friedrich and you fucking know it.” Watson’s only response was to walk out of the room. Friedrich’s smile fell off, dissatisfied at the lack of a reply. That title he has, Archduke, it really does mean nothing. Some black market trader claimed to carry the rights to Archdukedom of some abandoned colony somewhere. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Even back in the old Earth days, an Archduke was nothing compared to other lords. He donned his pants and followed the droid out. The ship’s interior was small, almost pitiable, really. Friedrich’s quarters led directly into the pilot’s seat. From there, you could access the bathroom and the storage room. Inside each of the rooms, the bases of the walls have many ducts for the miniature droids to travel through. The droids travel around the mid-sized ship, taking care of all repairs and maintenance. They serve as the crew, Watson serves as the first mate, and Friedrich as the captain and pilot. Despite the size, the S.A.S. Seraph (named as such due to the six-winged shape it takes during flight) is a one-man vessel. No other humans claim residence. Compensating for this, Friedrich is technically the captain of a fleet. Seraph, not needing many rooms for humans to be in, contains a fully function factory and dry dock to send out drones. Medium drones collect resources; small drones seek out targets; large drones destroy said targets. Non-hostile vessels are only targeted when they interfere with the mission, to gather raw material and samples from vessels that are hostile. Friedrich’s only task is to move the fleet in and out of danger at the right times. It seemed simple, just needing to move a fleet around, but the going gets rough after months of only interacting with other people through explosives. Perhaps that’s why Watson sounds like a woman. It really has been a while. Thank Christ it's almost time for the biannual return to civilization. For once, the captain was in relatively high spirits. Only two days left... Archduke Crick Friedrich flopped into the pilot's chair. This is the last one. This is the last one, he told himself. No more shitty off-the-grid jobs that don't pay much at all. No more fucking robots as the only form of social interaction around. If one more android decides to show its face after this, it's not gonna have a face to show for much longer. He gripped the joysticks and deployed the six wings.